Celebrating World Tourism Day

Reflections on the Past with an Eye to the Future

Travel should be an experience, one that binds us to our neighbors and friends, and grounds us within our physical world that we share. It has the power to break down barriers and strengthen bonds between individuals, nations, and societies.

Travel provides memories that last a lifetime. Whether it’s the quiet wonder of standing in cavernous cathedrals and ancient museums of art, or the soft rays of sunlight reflecting off the white sands of a beach; travel is a life-enhancing event. It is what connects us to the warmth of family and friends at holiday reunions across the globe.

As we celebrate World Tourism Day at Expedia, we reflect on how travel has impacted our lives today, as well as on emerging trends that will affect the future of travel for years to come.

The Growth of Travel

Travel and the tourism industry have taken off in the past few years. The Indian travel industry is expected to establish itself as the third largest travel and tourism economy by 2028 and is currently ranked 7th in the world in terms of its total contribution to the country’s GDP. As per the latest Expedia – CAPA Outbound Travel Outlook, in 2016, there were 21.9 million departures by Indian nationals, according to the Indian Ministry of Tourism. This includes travel for all purposes e.g. business, leisure, education, visiting friends & relatives (VFR) and others, by both resident and non-resident travelers. These travelers spent USD16.4 billion in 2016.

Business travel accounted for 26% of outbound trips, while visiting friends and relatives, employment, education, pilgrimage and others accounted for the balance 44%. By 2025, there will be estimated 13.9 million leisure departures, generating 19.4 million Indian visitor arrivals overseas, a CAGR of 12.2%. Traffic from tier-II Indian cities is expected to contribute significantly to the next phase of growth in outbound travel

There are several factors fueling the rise of travel. And while we love seeing that more people are exploring the world, we also recognize the challenges that this dramatic growth in tourism can bring. At Expedia, we have identified regional, local, and generational trends that are contributing to this growth in hopes to create a more affordable and mind opening experience for the traveler while also keeping the environment and the locals in mind.

Accessibility to New Audiences

Understanding the importance of travel, it has been a key agenda for the government over the last few years. There has been focus on infrastructural development across the country with a huge outlay for developing new airports/ airstrips across the country. With UDAN scheme, the government has increased regional connectivity and this will also give a boost to outbound tourism from Tier II and III cities due to higher accessibility.

With regular airfare sales, airlines have spoilt Indian travelers with discounts and airfare sales across the year from lean period to peak holiday season. These discounts besides stimulating the market are also helping airlines fuel both demand and booking.

Finally, platforms such as ride-sharing applications have made travel simpler, easier to navigate and much less expensive. Along with these developments, visa on arrival has helped consumers to plan quick short trips fueling travel industry.

Technology changing the dynamics of travel

Travel today is not just restricted to exploring new destinations and has rather become a need than a luxury. Indian travelers are turning more experimental, whether they are solo travelers, couple, family travelers, or a group of backpackers. Over the years, India as a market has seen an increased share of evolved consumers who are experience seekers,

As of June 2018, India has over 470 million mobile internet users1 who are always connected through smartphones and internet on the go, and most often rely on smart apps for planning and booking their travel. With advent of travel based apps, consumers are leveraging technology to make smarter travel decisions, be it booking tickets or accommodation, creating travel itineraries, scouting for travel deals, getting real time updates and reminders or navigating through the destinations.

New age traveler are evolved and make smarter choice and travel decisions. Social media also plays a very crucial role is decision making as consumers today look for verified reviews and reference before making any purchase.

Millennials and Generation Z on the Move

These social and economic factors have made travel a much more valued activity amongst younger generations as well. For Millennials (those born from 1977 – 1995) and Generation Z (those born after 1996), travel is an indispensable aspect of life. Born into an incredibly globalized and interconnected world, Millennials and Generation Z have a greater appetite for experiencing new cultures, languages, and destinations.

Expedia’s recent Generational Study, found that 91% millennials actively save money to go on a leisure trip, 61% of Gen Z are willing to get a part-time job for the same. Experience for them is of key interest and 63% millennials and 57% Gen Z are willing to spend extra money for.

While 84% Indians prefer to book online today, 85% millennials and 77% Gen Z think it is helpful to be able to book all travel and hotel accommodations on one website. Online reviews also play a very crucial role as over 80% look for online reviews, rating.

New Travel Hubs and Markets

Just as we are seeing new audiences travelling more, we are also noticing tourism expanding in countries that used to be overlooked. According to a recent survey by the World Travel and Tourism Council, one of the largest drivers in the future of travel and tourism will be expanding growth in the Asia-Pacific region2. Estimates forecast that more than half of new travel passengers over the next twenty years will be from the Asia-Pacific region. The growth of Asian travel will see China overtake the United States as the world’s largest aviation market. The WTTC also predicts that by 2030, India, Indonesia and Thailand will enter the top ten largest aviation markets.

Asia is not the only region expected to experience tremendous growth. The Expedia report “ARC, 2018 Air Travel Outlook Report” identified an expected growth rate of 4.6% in the Asia-Pacific region, which will only be third fastest behind Africa and the Middle East. The Middle East is expected to lead the way, with a growth rate of 5.0% by 2036, adding an additional 322 million travel passengers. Latin America is also not far behind. The region is expected to grow by 4.2% with a total market of 757 million travel passengers.

The Effects of Increased Travel & How to Build a Better Future for Travel

At times, certain unsustainable habits and unprepared infrastructure can contribute to an environmental stress for local populations. This can especially be noticed at tourism hotspots and will lead to deprivation for future generation.

For future generations to continue to experience the same beauty of travel, people need to be more responsible. The recent water crisis of Shimla3 saw very slim tourist traffic to the destination in the peak session.

Locals and tourists together need to be responsible to minimize any damaging effects. When combined with sustainable and healthy practices, the growth of travel and tourism can be a beneficial and enriching experience for both travelers and locals.

Efficient, Affordable, and Accessible Tourism

The world of travel is at an exciting inflection point. Changes in infrastructure, spending habits and technology have made travel more accessible and affordable for new and emerging groups of people. However, the growth of travel also threatens many fragile travel destinations around the world. At Expedia, we strive to address both future challenges as well as growth.

As the one of the world’s largest travel companies, we are obligated to do all we can to make travel as efficient, affordable and accessible as possible for our customers. However, we also believe that travel should be pursued sustainably, and with respect for local cultures, environments, and populations.

As we prepare for the future of travel, Expedia is committed to a future that is affordable, sustainable, and enriching for all its participants.

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